UNITED NATIONS - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi did not shake hands at the United Nations, but managed to wave at each other, an event that appeared to have escaped the notice of more than 50 world leaders assembled in a hall.

The occasion was UN peacekeeping summit, convened by US President Barack Obama, which was held in the Trusteenship Council Chamberv where Sharif and Modi were seated across each other at a horseshoe-shaped table.

As the two leaders took their respective seats, they initially avoided looking at each other. A little later, PM Sharif raised his hand and waved towards Modi, who smilingly waved back. After a pause, Mody returned the gesture by waving his hand, as Sharif acknowledged with a smile.

Pakistani and Indian officials had ruled out a meeting between the two prime ministers, but left open the possibility of a handshake. Both leaders were staying in the same hotel — the Waldorf Astoria.

On Monday, Prime Minister Sharif did not show up at two important receptions. One reception — in the morning — was hosted by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the second in the evening was hosted by President Obama. Both receptions were arranged to honour leaders from around the world who have gathered here. Last year too, Sharif opted out of the reception held for delegates to the General Assembly.

His aides said that they don’t know why the prime minister chose not to go to those receptions and mingle with world leaders. Under close questioning at news briefing, Pakistan Foreign Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry appeared to downplay the exchange of gestures between Sharif and Modi, saying it happened so fast that he couldn’t figure out who made the first move.

The two premiers had last met in Ufa in Russia in July.

Ties have been strained between the neighbours over cross-Loc firing and a series of ceasefire violations. Talks between National Security Advisors were cancelled recently because of a dispute over the agenda. India wanted to discuss terror attacks, while Pakistan pushed for talks on Kashmir.

Pakistan had figured in the context of terrorism during PM Modi’s talks with President Obama, UK Premier David Cameron and French President Francois Hollande, according to external affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup.

“There was a discussion on Pakistan... broadly the idea was if terrorism has to be fought then all countries have to be on the same page. You can’t have some countries talking of good and bad terrorists,” Swarup had told the media.